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Create your own artful history with Arts Commission

By MIMI BECKER

Arts Commission of Danville/Boyle County 

The story of quilting is much more than a cataloging of how people have kept warm. The American heritage of quilting tells the story of survival, resourcefulness and creativity of generations of women who picked up their needles, thread and saved precious scraps to provide for their families’ comfort.

In the process, they created a treasure of art which we, finally, appreciate as an art form at the highest level. If you are fortunate enough to still have a family heirloom quilt preserved, you have a piece of American history. I’m sure you wouldn’t trade it for anything. Periodically, antique quilts will come on the market due to family situations and the prices they command are astounding. A well designed, executed and preserved quilt will bring hundreds, if not thousands of dollars at auction or in specialty antique galleries. And they are worth every penny.

To me, a quilt is certainly a work of art. However, as a former history teacher, I treasure the back story which resulted in that beautiful creation. Every time I see an old quilt and examine the piecing, the design, the fabrics, the tiny stitches, I imagine the woman, or women, who created it. Often quilting was a social activity bringing women together to set up a new bride, provide for soldiers going to the front, or just enjoy each other’s company.

For most women, a quilt was a necessity to provide warmth for their families in unheated houses. So, yes, there were quilts quickly pieced and stitched together. They were made of whatever fabric was available and may, or may not have had much of a plan to the design. However, even those random piecings had a charm and beauty in their simplicity.

As soon as the basics were taken care of, however, the women turned to the creation of special designs incorporating patterns of colorful pieces cut from fabrics which were hoarded as whatever their original purpose may have been was no longer possible. Fabric from an outgrown shirt or dress still had a life as quilt material. As materials became more available, fabrics would be purchased specifically for a special design.

The Arts Commission of Danville/Boyle County currently is hosting an exhibit of quilts made by the Pieceable Friends Quilt Guild of Danville. In the true spirit of quilting, the Friends share their talents by making quilts for Wounded Warriors. They provide quilts for law enforcement and social services workers to use for emergency child services. The Friends contribute to numerous other causes including donating a quilt for the Arts Commission’s Art-full Affair auction to benefit arts scholarships.

Quilters are also generous in sharing their expertise.

The Arts Commission is honored to sponsor quilting classes taught by the Pieceable Friends during the month of February. Classes will be held each Saturday from 1-3 p.m. at the McKinney Conference Center at Constitution Square. For inspiration, quilters will enjoy a roomful of quilts on display!

The classes are designed for beginners, or more advanced students with plenty of opportunity for individualized instruction. Each week the class will learn a new block and practice the block during the week before the next class. Hand sewing or machine sewing can be used to complete the quilt blocks.

Participants will learn new and exciting techniques to execute the blocks with precision and pleasure. At the end of the month, participants will have a completed project to celebrate their success and likely be motivated to continue exploring the art on their own or with friends.

Join the Pieceable Friends and the Arts Commission to create your own quilting history and art. 

IF YOU GO

Quilting classes through the Arts Commission of Danville/Boyle County will be held every Saturday through February. Classes are free to Arts Commission members, and cost $30 for non-members. There is a $5 supply fee for some materials which will be provided in class. To register, call (859) 236-2361, ext. 111 or email arts@betterindanville.com.